by Steve Sweeney
Morning Star | October 05, 2018
IRANIAN communists hailed the beginning of a new chapter in workers struggle today, as unions sent messages of international solidarity to striking lorry drivers.
Goods and haulage transportation has ground to a halt in Iran, with a dispute over terms and conditions and the rising prices of tyres and spare parts rolling into a second week.
The second wave of action started on September 22, after the Union of Co-ordinators of Iranian Drivers presented a list of 15 demands to the government, including a rise in pensions and the hazardous employment supplement, proper regulation of drivers’ insurance, a 70 per cent increase in the hiring rate, a reduction in the price of tyres and spare parts and removal of parasitic middlemen and fixers from the transport companies, lorry depots and yards.
However, instead of dealing with the workers’ concerns, the clerical regime has acted to crush the lorry drivers’ strike by deploying police and members of the security forces to the depots to force the strikers to start moving goods again.
A number of strikers have been arrested and Iran’s Attorney General has warned that there will be a “heavy punishment” for those detained.
International Transport Federation spokesman Noel Coard said the union was “very concerned” about the situation and its affiliates “stand in solidarity with truckers of Iran in their fight to defend workers’ rights.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing 1.4 million transport and supply chain workers in the United States and Canada, warned that the dispute had arisen as workers “have no voice in the decisions that impact their livelihoods.”
In a statement, the union urged the Iranian government to listen to the grievances of the drivers and respect rights to “assembly, speech, freedom of association and collective bargaining.”
Tudeh Party of Iran international secretary Navid Shomali told the Star a new chapter in the workers’ struggle in Iran has already started.
“It is imperative that there takes place a better and more focused organisation of the strike with the developing of links with other workers undertaking action in pursuit of their demands so as to ensure that the regime and employers hear the resolute message of the strikers,” he said.
Tudeh called for the realisation of the rights and demands of drivers and an an end to the intimidation, threats and arrest of striking truckers.